TA L E N T A N D O R G A N I Z AT I O N C O N S U LT I N G
Best-in-Class Global Talent Management
Ensuring a Ready Talent Supply: One World, One Workforce 1
What Is Global Talent Management? 1
Business Context 3
Talent Challenges 4
Five Road Rules for Global Talent Management 6
Making it Work 12
Ensuring a Ready Talent Supply: One World, One Workforce
Hardly a major corporation remains untouched by the global market- What is Global Talent Management?
place. Globalization has changed the face and fabric of today’s workplace Amidst an undeniable transformation of the global workforce, prevailing
and given a new meaning to “human capital.” While getting the right premises about talent and talent management processes are being
talent for the right job at the right cost remains a top priority for busi- examined. With demand for outstanding talent far exceeding the supply,
ness leaders, the rapid pace of globalization is forcing companies to apply the old paradigm “people are our most valuable asset” is being revisited.
a global lens to how they manage talent. Whether that means deploying Increasingly, it’s being replaced by a new adage that stresses the need for
talent in different parts of the world, sourcing talent from a specific high-performing talent. In the words of Jim Collins, “People are not your
market, or developing talent with a global mind-set, global talent most important asset.The RIGHT people are.” Just who are these “right
management is clearly a top-of-mind issue. In the words of a recent people”? Simply put, they are those employees who are the most capable
cover story from The Economist, “The talent war has gone global.”1 of making vital contributions to a company’s performance.
As organizations extend and expand their labor footprint around the When it comes to defining global talent management, there exist a
globe, they must tackle a number of fundamental questions: number of different baseline approaches. For the purpose of this brief, we
• How do we define global talent management and global talent? define global talent management as an organization’s comprehensive and
• What are the key global issues (e.g., global economics, growing disciplined approach to leveraging and managing talent across the world.
competition or rapid market growth and talent availability in emerging This includes the integration of various talent management processes, all
countries) that influence global talent management? of which enable an organization to acquire, develop, deploy, and motivate
• What are the main challenges in sourcing, developing and retaining a its global talent.The degree of integration depends on where the organi-
global talent pool? zation stands in its evolution as a global company. For companies with
• How can we optimize the value of our global talent management limited international operations, the management of talent often remains
programs? primarily a local practice with some global implications. For those com-
panies with truly global reach, however, talent is managed and sourced
Drawing from Hewitt Associates’ vast experience and research in global
globally, particularly at the leadership level.
talent management, the following brief highlights basic challenges and
leading practices in this increasingly critical area.
Best-in-Class Global Talent Management 1
Where Are You on the Global Map?
As organizations evolve toward a more global outlook, the sourcing and management of talent must also evolve. In recent years, internet
business models have redefined global business paradigms. Most of today’s FORTUNE 500 companies fall within the multinational category,
though the trend is toward even more global operations and leveraging of global talent. Over time, experts predict that organizations, particularly
non-US-based organizations, will no longer require a core headquarters, instead operating virtually and without borders.
International Multinational Global
International Talent Pool–An organization with predominantly domestic operations and limited overseas activities. It typically draws from a
centralized talent pool, generally located in the country/region where it has corporate headquarters. Its international businesses are often
managed independently, utilizing separate resources.
Multinational Talent Pool–An organization with business activities in multiple locations. Typically, each country’s operations are managed as
separate entities by local employees, with corporate headquarters relocating expatriates to manage leadership positions or business-critical
assignments in local entities.
Global Talent Pool–An organization with operations around the world which utilizes a series of differentiated talent pools. A cadre of talent
is shared and leveraged globally, regardless of national or geographic boundaries to service both global and local markets.
2 Best-in-Class Global Talent Management
So, exactly who represents ‘global talent’? Is it someone with connections ratio is 4 to 1. By 2050, it is predicted to be 6 to 1. For demographers,
to multiple countries? Foreign students seeking employment somewhere the explanation is twofold: declining mature populations in many
other than their home country? Cross-border migrants? Employees who developed nations and explosively growing, ever-younger populations
are deputed to international assignments in a company’s worldwide in much of the developing world. Within developed nations, the “graying
operations? Simply stated, every employee is a local national of at least of the workforce” is expected to cause shortages in leadership and a loss
one country, but often he or she can claim a connection with several. of institutional knowledge and critical skills. At the same time, the center
More frequent international travel, population mobility, and cross-border of gravity for skilled talent is tipping toward India and China.
university education are creating a pool of available global talent. Each
country connection an individual can claim increases the individual’s Global imbalance in education and skill levels. In today’s knowl-
potential competitive advantage, as well as that of the organization. edge-driven world, there is an intense demand for high-end technical
and scientific talent. Countries with sound higher-education systems
Business Context produce well-trained cohorts of highly skilled engineers, scientists,
As we move into the 21st century, globalization has become a universal and doctors.Yet, 33 million young professionals with both university
reality. Far-reaching, fundamental changes in the global economy have degrees and valuable work experience live in 28 low-wage countries.
significantly influenced and redesigned the global employment scenario, By contrast, 15 million highly skilled young professionals reside in eight
creating a human capital supply chain that is more integrated into the high-wage nations, including 7.7 million in the United States, according
global system than ever before. Rapid increases in international trade, to McKinsey & Company. Thus, the bulk of the global talent pool lies
dramatic advancements in communication and technology, and rising outside the United States. What’s more, U.S. universities will produce
education and skill levels in the developing nations have combined to about 400,000 new scientists and engineers in 2010, while China,
effectively make the world flatter.This has led to significant changes in India, and Russia are expected to produce more than 2 million
labor market dynamics, most notably the flight of cross-border capital scientists and engineers combined.2
in the form of outsourcing and free flow of labor caused by migration. International cross-border migration. Where work is performed is
A number of trends are driving organizations to create a global talent becoming less dependent on where the work is actually sold. Worker
pool.They include the following. mobility and migration are on the rise, with employees far less likely to
remain in one physical location throughout their careers. During the past
Global demographic divide.The downstream effects of a massive world- 40 years, global migration of both less-skilled and highly skilled workers
wide shift in demographics are significantly affecting the supply of local has doubled. In large part, international mobility of talent is driven by
talent. In terms of sheer numbers, population patterns have become the expected income differential—that is, how much a person can earn
unevenly distributed across the globe. In 1950, for every person in the in a more developed economy, compared with how much he or she
developed world, there were two in the developing world.Today, that could earn in the home economy. Since the demand for talent is
Best-in-Class Global Talent Management 3
ubiquitous, many talented individuals relocate to stronger economies To build a world-class global talent supply chain, companies must
where the reward package allows them better purchasing and saving proactively address talent challenges occurring at two levels:
power. (i) Organizational Level: Challenges associated with a company’s strategy,
processes, infrastructure, and technology that prevent it from
Strategic business imperatives (offshoring, global sourcing). Business leveraging its global talent pool.
imperatives such as decreasing costs by labor arbitrage—popularly called (ii) Individual Level: Challenges associated with an individual’s working
offshoring—allow global corporations to access hubs of talented individ- style and worldview, as well as those influencing the interaction and
uals in different countries, instead of relying on talent from a single relationships between teams working globally.
location. Increasing interdependence of world economic systems and
rapid advancement in communication has led organizations to build Organizational Level
their talent supply as a globally integrated value chain. Naturally, every corporation would like to have on-demand access to
high-end global talent. Unfortunately, several significant operational
Increasingly, organizations are coming to recognize the value of global challenges often restrict employers from effectively using available
teams. Not only do they help companies leverage greater economies of talent pools. They include the following.
scale by locating activities in the most advantageous locations, but they
also aid in the development of global products and services– those that Commitment from leaders. Time and again, evidence has shown that the
meet the needs and priorities of a global consumer. As the competition most important determinant of global talent management success is
for talent has intensified, companies have started applying a game- the degree of involvement by the CEO, the board of directors, and the
hunting approach to talent acquisition: “Hunt where the game is!” leader in talent management activities. All too often, however, senior
Consequently, they have begun tapping into local markets around the leaders fail to dedicate adequate time or attention to managing global
world, particularly high-growth economies like China, India, Brazil, or talent, thereby creating a deep chasm between the rhetoric and reality
Russia, in their efforts to procure the best talent. of their companies’ global talent management programs.
Talent Challenges Building global capabilities.The majority of companies are not making
In many ways, the challenges of building and running a global work- adequate or timely investments in building the leadership capital required
force are surprisingly similar to managing a local talent bench. Thus, to deliver superior performance in markets across the world. Ethnocentric
organizations should resist the temptation to discard their existing talent career progression and development programs offered by most organiza-
management playbooks and success recipes. While they may need to be tions allow high performers to shine locally, but fail to provide them with
adapted to address the talent challenges of the 21st century, they are the kinds of learning and work experiences essential for exchanging ideas
by no means obsolete. with colleagues around the world, exploring the complexities of a global
economy, and developing the type of international mind-set necessary to
succeed in a global environment.
4 Best-in-Class Global Talent Management
Attracting and retaining global talent. Despite the existence of large candidate Cultural diversity,The global talent force must be continuously aware of—
pools, there is still an ongoing war for talent in many emerging markets. and sensitive to—the barriers that differences can create. Cultural dispari-
Many non-U.S. markets face large turnover issues because of a wide gap ties restrict talented individuals from broadening their perspective and
between open positions and qualified candidates. Talented local managers integrating in an environment that appears different from their own.
with global competencies are in high demand. Understandably, they Norms that are commonplace in one country may clash with those of
desire rewards, effective talent utilization, and career opportunities that another culture.Thus, expectations of a leader may vary by country. In
match their global counterparts. As a result, organizations are finding a more ascription-based culture like China or the Middle East, for
they have to resort to double-digit salary and benefit increases to recruit example, a leader may be expected to give specific instructions to the
and retain key positions. team. However, many Americans would view these instructions as
“marching orders” or micromanagement.
Integrated talent management frameworks. Consistent criteria for defining talent
in different locations is a must.Yet most organizations do not have a single Communication. Differences in usage and style of language—coupled with
fully integrated talent strategy, structure, and process across borders and the inclusion of abbreviations, acronyms, and slang—may create serious
cultures. What’s more, they are also juggling multiple, overlapping talent misunderstandings among talent from different countries. This could
technology and software across different functions range from simple communications protocols—who gets copied on
and geographies. written documents, for example—to weightier matters such as deci-
sion-making, leadership, and conflict resolution.Virtually located talent
Employment legislations. Movement of talent across the globe means is also at a disadvantage due to heavy dependence on technology and a
navigating the rapidly changing regulatory landscape. Some governments lack of face-to-face communication.
have not only imposed higher taxes on companies that hire foreign
workers; they also have reduced employment quotas and slashed work Location and lifestyle. Location of a particular assignment often determines
permits for specific jobs. As a result, obtaining approval for talent working whether incentives will need to be given to attract the right global talent.
in a foreign country can be a frustrating and time-consuming experience. Many global managers would consider Vietnam a less attractive assign-
ment destination than Paris, for example. Some locations also have
Individual Level more appeal and attraction to a particular talent population than others.
It’s not just the organization that faces challenges when working with a While both the United States and Finland are interested in attracting
geographically diverse and/or dispersed workforce. Individuals are also talent in science and technology, the average Indian scientist may be
plagued by a number of formidable challenges, including the following. more at home in New Jersey, where there are more Indian restaurants
and shopping than in Helsinki.
Best-in-Class Global Talent Management 5
Five Road Rules for Global Talent Management
Cornerstones of an Effective Global Talent Strategy
Behind the implementation of any global talent management program is Alignment and How does global talent management link with the company’s
the goal of building a sustainable competitive advantage by attracting, Govenance business strategy and support key business imperatives and value
developing, and deploying the best managerial talent in each of the com- drivers?
pany’s markets. Hewitt Associates’ collective knowledge, client experience,
Operations What financial and people resources are needed to execute the
and thought leadership in building a worldwide talent bench has enabled
strategy? What programs will be deployed—now and in the
us to identify a few well-grounded “rules of the road” for successful future—and how will the ensure maximum quality and efficiency?
global talent management.
Measurements What criteria will be used to show success?
Rule 1:Take a Deliberate, Long-Term Approach
Managing global talent doesn’t happen by accident. Companies that excel Investments What new investments are required to execute the strategy and
in global talent management have a strategy and plan in place focused on how will these investments contribute to the bottom-line?
long-term strategic business priorities. This includes planning for the
company’s long-term talent needs; understanding global talent supply
dynamics including global, socioeconomic, and cultural issues; and Take IBM, for example. Its core business strategy of being an on-demand
implementing a holistic process for sourcing and managing a global company is realized by optimizing key operations around the world,
talent pool. Unfortunately, most organizations take a short-term, reactive integrating them horizontally and globally, and leveraging world-class
approach to managing talent around the world. Many organizations talent around the world. “IBM’s research organization is a good example,”
continue to rely on expatriates from corporate headquarters to run local says Nicholas Donofrio, Executive Vice President for Innovation and
operations, even though the practice is not cost-effective and actually Technology at IBM. “Operating in strategic locations around the world,
hinders the long-term aim of establishing a robust pipeline of talented the research organization focuses on technology and business needs
local professionals who can lead their own local markets. relevant to those countries and integrates science and technologies
from across IBM. Each of IBM’s global research labs is a hub for nurturing
Leading companies start with a global talent strategy derived from local talent and for partnering with local academic institutions on
their business and human resource planning process and informed by global projects. In addition, IBM is practicing global integration by
strategic business decisions such as revenue targets, new market expan- reaching into local markets around the world, especially the high-growth
sions, planned business partnerships, sales and production changes, economies. The company is fueling investments in these markets by
and staffing demands. reallocating talent from slower-growing maturing markets and creating
6 Best-in-Class Global Talent Management
Another key component is to build a plan for managing global talent Cornerstones of an Effective Global Talent Strategy
across the organization. Beyond sourcing, an organization needs to design
a holistic approach for how key talent is developed, moved, and retained Specific talent groups and markets
across the globe.This is not always easy given local business and cultural are targeted to catch the right global talent.
needs, but leading companies manage to establish some sort of integrated This includes moving work to where the talent is.
approach. IBM, for example, takes a global supply chain approach to how
it manages its talent, so that its workforce is always available and ready
“on demand.” The Workforce Management Initiative maintains a global Catchers
inventory of employee skills, experiences, and career interests and auto-
matically matches key talent to upcoming opportunities. The database
is also linked to workforce planning tools to help managers assess the
various pros and cons of different staffing strategies (e.g., buy, build, or Cherry Connectors
borrow) across the globe. Likewise, at Bank of Ireland, an enterprise-wide Pickers
global talent plan was recently developed under the leadership of Brian
Goggin, Group Chief Executive. Key focus areas include diversity,
Increase in global mobility, Enabling technologies and flexible
executive movement, knowledge transfer, responsibility and accountability,
international migration and foreign working arrangements connects to
and metrics. All senior executives are assessed against these areas in their students provide a new source of talent that can “plug and play”
performance evaluations.4 capable global talent that can be from any location around the globe.
cherry picked locally.
Rule 2: Source Talent Where You Find It
Best-in-class companies no longer source talent solely in their own back-
yards. Rather, they scour the world in search of the best and brightest.
Physical boundaries and geographies are of secondary concern, as organi-
zations increasingly embrace the notion of a global talent pool. In their
efforts to globally source talent, leading companies employ three funda-
mental strategies, as illustrated at right.
Best-in-Class Global Talent Management 7
As research and innovation become top priorities for employers, international levels, launching a major effort to source talent from a
companies are overcoming the shortage of science and engineering worldwide pool for its roughly 600 director, vice president, and senior
graduates in the United States and European nations by anticipating vice president positions.8 The company also established formal positions
future staffing needs and identifying the best ways to source this talent and structures to support the global sourcing of talent by creating a
from global locations such as India and China. Consider Microsoft’s new staffing position, Director of Executive Acquisition, responsible for
Global Technical Engineering Center, which occupies five floors of the managing global executive searches. On a weekly basis, the director
famous Metro Tower in Xu Jia Hui, one of Shanghai’s busiest commercial reports directly to the CEO on the status of top searches.
districts. Every morning, hundreds of Microsoft employees spend long
hours in modern but tight cubicles, providing research and technical Leading companies are also moving beyond the traditional expatriate
support to the world.This focus on sourcing and tapping into local talent model to meet their global talent needs. Innovative approaches to sourcing
is not only a smart people play; it’s also a logical business move, given top talent are breaking down physical borders and allowing a new gener-
that growth in these parts of the world is explosive. General Electric ation of global talent—from all parts of the world—to emerge.
expects the developing world to drive 60% of its growth over the next
10 years, compared with just 20% from the previous decade.5 In China, Rule 3: Develop a Global Talent Mind-Set
about 70% of executive jobs within Western multinational organizations Next-generation talent must be capable and competent to manage both
are filled by local Chinese talent, compared with the mid-1990s when global integration and local responsiveness. Simply put, global talent
most such roles were taken up by expatriates.6 At Caterpillar, low- to mid- needs to develop a “global mind-set”—that is, an individual’s orientation
level leaders from emerging markets are brought in through partnerships to the international experience. Legendary leader Jack Welch called this
with government and local organizations.The company then moves them the “globalization of intellect,” explaining, “The real challenge is to glob-
quickly to international assignments for learning and positions them to alize the mind of the organization…Until you globalize intellect, you
become leaders in their home locations. haven’t really globalized the company.”9 Thus, best-in-class companies
tend to place a high value on multicultural experience as a critical predic-
In the 21st century, the global exchange of labor is an absolute necessity. tor of employees’ success in the global marketplace.
Currently, just 10% of U.S.-based recruiters routinely scan the globe
for U.S.-based positions. According to a recent survey by consulting Best-in-class organizations develop leaders with a global mind-set who
firm Global Learning Resources, however, 53% of respondents consid- can manage the complexity of a dynamic, global business environment.
er it important to recruit from other countries and 35% expect to do They are able to work with people from a variety of cultural backgrounds,
more global recruiting this year.7 The trend is clear and inevitable as the including globally acclimatized individuals at company headquarters and
talent wars heat up on a global scale. Case in point: Dell Computers. local leaders with global capabilities. At Procter & Gamble (P&G), local tal-
In the past year, Dell has stepped up its local and regional recruiting to ent is sent on international assignments to learn how business is conduct-
ed in another country. A manager who is groomed to take over a top
8 Best-in-Class Global Talent Management
Global Mind-set finance position in Russia might go to Britain for a few years to work in
• Seeks universals and commonalities across cultures, trying a more structured and complex market, for example. What’s more, P&G
diverse groups together employees who go on international assignments are expected to develop
• “Imagine all the people sharing all the world” local talent to replace themselves.10 Along a similar vein, best-in-class
• Effective when working at a global level, integrating companies bring local talent from emerging countries to corporate head-
different ideas, approaches, businesses into a unified
quarters, thereby enabling them to network, develop relationships, build
credibility with the company’s leadership, and obtain appropriate busi-
ness training that will allow them to advance at local leadership levels.
“Integrators” A close examination of the career tracks of many top executives reveal
that international experience is clearly a prerequisite for assuming senior
leadership roles. At some big multinationals, such as Coca-Cola and
Global Mind-set General Electric, international exposure is a requirement for reaching the
Model C-suite. At P&G, 39 of the company’s top 44 global officers have experi-
Ethnocentric Polycentric ence on international assignments, and 22 were born outside the United
“Self-Affirmers” “Assimilators” States.Two of P&G’s top officers—Chairman, President, and CEO Alan G.
Lafley and Vice-Chairman Bruce Byrnes—serve as perfect illustrations of
this strategy, Lafley having executive responsibility for Asia in the mid-
• Assumes one’s own nationality, • Adapts to and bridges cultural 1990s, while Byrnes worked for P&G Europe in the early 1990s.
culture, values to be superior over differences
others • “When in Rome do as the Romans do” Leading companies infuse development opportunities with a deliberately
• “The sun never sets on the British • Effective when focusing on local
global focus. P&G, IBM, Intel, and others encourage employees to build
Empire” market or regulatory situation
• Effective in standardizing operations cross-cultural relationships by offering compensation to those who learn
globally a foreign language for business-related reasons. P&G and IBM send will-
ing employees to foreign language training programs offered by external
Source: Guy & Beaman 2003, Sullivan 2001, Perimutter 1969 organizations. Meanwhile, Intel’s global leadership development program
is spread across various global locations to provide exposure to all lead-
ers. Managers who are selected for the weeklong global culture immer-
sion session fly to locations outside their home region. Recent locations
have included Ireland, China, and Israel.11 Intel employees also have the
Best-in-Class Global Talent Management 9
option of attending one-day classes, such as “Working With Russia” and and global talent management.14 Within many of these companies, top
“Doing Business With the Japanese," which provide basic information on leaders are considered “corporate assets.”Thus, they are not tied specifi-
building relationships and working cross-culturally.12 GE recently set up cally to one business or region for an extended period. At GE, for exam-
Global Talent Forums that take place during regional senior leadership ple, this select group encompasses the company’s top 600 leaders.
meetings. A handful of top performers are assessed on the spot through Similarly, Philips Electronics manages top leadership as an enterprise-wide
interactions with and presentations to the senior team. Nearly 50% of the asset, with key recruiting and development activities conducted in a cen-
time, promotions are granted instantly.These forums are an explicit effort tralized fashion. Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson’s executive committee
to accelerate and spotlight the leadership development of non-U.S.-based oversees and “owns” 75 leadership positions across the company, and it
talent who may not benefit from networking opportunities connected to makes sure that explicit succession plans are in place for all 75 roles.15
more regular exposure to top leadership at headquarters.
At GE, CEO Jeff Immelt is even more involved in the company’s legendary
Rule 4: Get Leaders Into the Act Session C process than was his predecessor, Jack Welch, spending more
Management of global talent is no small task and something that cannot than 30% of his time on people leadership development issues.16 Immelt
be left solely in the hands of local HR practitioners. Business leaders— stresses the need to look for future leaders from across the globe, and he
including the CEO, the board of directors, and key heads of both business personally participates in regular talent reviews of GE’s most critical global
units and countries—must play an active role in ensuring that strategy is leaders. Below any leadership position, he expects to see three levels of
set and plans are executed.This involvement from the very top is key, as depth—of folks who are ready today, not just “stretch depth.” GE’s Board
evidenced in a recent survey on global talent management by Industrial is also involved in the grooming and development of top global talent, as
Relations Counselors, Inc. Indeed, it demonstrates that the most impor- Board members regularly meet with new executives and participate in
tant determinant of global talent management success is the degree of global talent planning discussions. Another global leader who “walks the
involvement by the CEO, the board of directors, and the global talent talk” is Jay Crotts, CIO of Royal Dutch Shell PLC. Every one to two weeks,
leader in talent management activities. On average, CEOs spend 16% of Crotts travels for 10 days at a time, overseeing a team of 8,000 IT profes-
their time speaking publicly about global talent management, mentoring sionals in 145 countries. His goal is to source and groom the best IT
high potentials, participating in talent reviews, and approving succession person for every position, regardless of where that person lives.17
plans. Meanwhile, board members in 46% of companies provide input
into assessment of key employees, and 39% meet with high potentials As we’ve seen, leaders at best-in-class companies are actively involved in
during the year.13 all components of managing global talent—from talent reviews to global
talent development initiatives to the actual sourcing of talent.These leaders
Leaders at best-in-class companies truly “walk the talk,” operating with a share the unshakeable belief that talent is absolutely critical to the future
global mind-set and dedicating significant time to building global talent. of the organization and that global talent management is truly a business
Consequently, they are viewed as sponsors of global business expansion imperative.
10 Best-in-Class Global Talent Management
Rule 5: Create Connections Through Integrated Structures,
Lessons for Leaders Technologies and Tools
Managing global talent is complex. From an operational perspective, it
Global Talent Management A Business Imperative requires a myriad of networks and partnerships to work together across
• Achieve a competitive advantage not by using global workforce as a the globe. A defined infrastructure—in terms of organizational structure,
reactive, cost saving option but by tapping into world-wide talent to technologies, and tools—can go a long way toward ensuring that talent
build a global corporation. management efforts are integrated and supported. Of course, this comes
as no surprise to best-in-class companies.They routinely establish up
• Create a truly global company culture that can be calibrated to on-the-
front the enabling architecture to integrate and break down stand-alone
ground, local realities.
functions and barriers. Oftentimes, it is the daily work experiences and
• Disperse leaders and managers geographically so that they can appreciate interactions among global employees that most effectively build a global
the business from all vantage points and excell in the global playing work environment and develop global leaders (versus formal global train-
field. ing programs).This belief was confirmed by a recent Conference Board
• Leverage the emerging awareness and assertiveness among talent across study, which cited the use of international cross-functional teams as the
the world with regards to their importance, value and contribution at a most extensively used practice for developing global leaders.18
The company’s organizational structure, particularly as it relates to formal
• Foster innovation and operational excellence by benefiting from the and informal governance and decision making, can strongly impact the
uniqueness and differences in experience and capabilities of the global efficacy of managing talent globally. A rigid, siloed structure, for example,
talent pool. can hinder the sourcing and development of global talent, while a flexible
collaborative structure can have just the opposite effect. By definition,
best-in-class global talent management requires a more integrated
approach to managing key talent. Among the best known is GE’s “Session
C” talent review process. With 320,000 employees across 100 countries,
the company has to establish clear and integrated structures and programs
for assessing and developing its most critical global talent. For GE, Session
C serves as the key talent management and succession planning process
across the entire organization—one in which top performers are com-
pared across businesses and geographies. While the process starts at the
local level, the final review of leadership talent is rolled up at the global
level and assessed by the CEO and his executive team.
Best-in-Class Global Talent Management 11
Leading companies are also actively establishing internal labor markets Making It Work
to enable the fluid movement of incumbent talent. Employees essentially
sell their services for short- and long-term engagements with the While managing a global workforce is clearly fraught with
mediation of an internal market mechanism that helps match skills, challenges, leading companies are paving the way—crafting an
interests, and capacity. Consultants at two of the top firms—McKinsey agenda, identifying innovative means of getting talent in the
and PricewaterhouseCoopers—are encouraged to apply for projects any- door, developing managerial capabilities with cultural intelli-
where in the world. Likewise, Hewlett-Packard runs what it calls the gence, and embedding smart systems and practices to ensure
Venture Capital (VC) Café.The goal is to encourage employees from that talent is developed and retained. Led by the chief executive
across the globe to propose a new project. If approved by senior manage- and blessed by the board, global talent initiatives are deemed
ment, an open application process is established to quickly assemble a business critical, which is clearly evident by the amount of time
global team.19 and resources dedicated to them. It is not a simple endeavor,
and there are no off-the-shelf solutions that can be put in place.
Technology provides another connection point. Best-in-class companies As these companies have shown, however, global talent manage-
have led the charge in utilizing effective talent management systems with ment can be done—and done well, with a high degree of
global access and capabilities.Today, many vendors are evolving toward a success. The talent war has most definitely gone global, but
“talent management suite” solution that bundles various global talent savvy organizations can win this essential battle by carefully
management needs into one system, including recruitment and applicant considering the relevant issues, taking a few cues from leading-
tracking software, employee performance management, and rewards edge companies, and putting in place a comprehensive and
planning systems.20 Such sophisticated, global technology can be rolled disciplined strategy for leveraging and managing talent across
out internationally as a single, unified system configured for each region. the world. Taking such a careful, calculated approach to the
However, companies must ensure that their home country solution is global talent war will enable them to bolster their arsenal and
scalable to a multilingual, multicultural and transregulatory environment. ultimately develop a truly world-class global talent supply chain.
If it is not, the organization does not necessarily need to abandon the
solution. Instead, it can deploy any of a number of viable options.21
12 Best-in-Class Global Talent Management
Options Pros Cons
Maintain a solution at corporate HQ allowing subsidiaries to keep the • Least upfront effort and expense • More restricted pay-off
solution they are using. Agree to standard metrics and deploy a central • High operational cost in the
warehouse that can receive/transfer data from all disparate systems. long-term
Select one solution for global implementation. The solution is calibrated • Achieves economies of scale and • Only integrates at analytics and
for each subsidiary and operated, more or less, on a stand alone basis in price discounts (by achieving or reporting layer
each region. All relevant data is transferred to central analytics or reporting leasing multiple licenses)
databases. • Common solution
• Allows staff mobility from region
to region with understanding of
eHR solution throughout
• Makes transfer of employee
Select a global solution that can be rolled out internationally as one, • Offers complete integration • Most initial effort and expense
unified system configured for each region. • Achieves the lowest total cost of • High risk for regions in terms of
ownership autonomy and access to a highly
• Provides the greatest opportunity centralized solution
to leverage HR intelligence
Source: Chaisson, J., and Schweyer, Allan.,“Global Talent Management: Fostering Global Workforce Practices that are Scalable, Sustainable and Ethical”
Human Capital Institute, June 2004
Best-in-Class Global Talent Management 13
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November 21, 2005
14 Best-in-Class Global Talent Management